Social media reports from Zimbabwe indicate that the defence forces have given President Robert Mugabe the chance to leave the country – and he may be headed for Singapore. The latest posting by IOL indicates that Former Zimbabwean Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa has landed at Mnyame Airforce Base apparently to take control of the government. This would also imply that Mugabe is headed out.
One of the posts on social media said that Robert Mugabe was given an ultimatum to vacate his mansion “and it is possible he is leaving the country for Singapore… or is due to leave shortly.” However, ANN7 and eNCA both reported that Mugabe was safe and staying in his mansion at present.
The Cape Messenger reported on Tuesday – via postings by author Peter Godwin – that there were unusual troop movements in the capital Harare.
Does the coup in Zimbabwe mean the end to Mugabe rule?
Social media reports also stated that certain ministers had been arrested. Significantly, The African Exponent website reported that the army had detained Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo. The website reported that “after siezing power”, the army said it was “rooting out criminals” around President Mugabe who it said were causing social and economic suffering. It reported that Chombo was a leading member of the G40 faction in the Zimbabwean African National Union Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) party led by Mugabe’s wife, Grace.
There was confusion, however, as to how far the coup d’état had gone, but one post stated: “Remember that if Robert Mugabe was not neutralised there was no way the army press conference could have been held.” General Constantino Chiwenga addressed the conference.
Reuters reported that Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF – which has been in power since independence from Britain in 1980 – accused the head of the military, General Chiwenga of treason. The military leader did not announce a coup at the press conference but called for an end to purges in Mugabe’s ruling party – a reference to the recent sacking of Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa – and said the security services would stop those “bent on hijacking the revolution”.
The Cape Messenger reported on Tuesday that there had been unusual troop movements in the capital, especially on the Chinhoyi-Harare road. There was also activity at the state broadcaster and latest reports say that soldiers had seized the state broadcaster, the Zimbabwean Broadcasting Company. The broadcasts by the general appear to have been broadcast from this building.
Peter Godwin, who is author of The Fear, wrote on his Facebook page that it appeared that General Chiwenga did not wish to see the coup d’état as a classic one. He wrote: “Definitely something up. I’m hearing Chiwenga doesn’t want it seen as a classic coup, more leverage to get Mnangagwa back in play, and clip Grace’s (Grace Mugabe’s) wings…”
ANN7 and eNCA were running a clip this morning – Wednesday – of the general, who was calming the populace. He said that it was not a coup as such, but a means to restore calm. He said the churches should pray for stability and the judiciary and Members of Parliament should continue to do their work as normal.
However, social media reports indicate that the Mugabe’s have been under lockdown for two days. One post said: Just confirmed with a former banker heavily connected with Zanu that “Bob is on lockdown at his house for the last two days, no one is allowed in or out of the property. Also on lockdown is Professor (Simon) Moyo and his boys in G40 (the movement behind Grace Mugabe to be president).”
“All military strategic locations have been secured and a new command centre set up in Masvingo. Things are normal in the city (Harare). Business is going on as usual, but all key government offices are heavily guarded.”
The report indicated that Grace Mugabe had not been allowed to sit in meetings at which an exit plan was being negotiated for Robert Mugabe.
An indication that all is not right even in the Mugabe camp is the statement by Professor Moyo. Moyo, who is chairman of Zanu-PF and Information Minister, accused the military of treasonous behaviour.
The Presidency has issued this reaction to developments in Zimbabwe:
President Jacob Zuma, on behalf of SADC, has noted with great concern the unfolding political situation in the Republic of Zimbabwe.
President Zuma has called for calm and restraint and has expressed hope that developments in Zimbabwe would not lead to unconstitutional changes of Government as that would be contrary to both SADC and African Union positions.
The President has urged the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Defence Force to resolve the political impasse amicably and has urged the Zimbabwean Defence Force to ensure that the maintenance of peace and security in the country is not compromised.
SADC will continue to closely monitor the situation and remains ready to assist where necessary to resolve the political impasse in keeping with established SADC Protocols and processes.